The Toughest Challenge
Written by Mike Bennett
We men love challenges. Why do we climb mountains? Run marathons? Do extreme sports? (Or—watch others do these things!)
But I think I just read the greatest challenge.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
Love? That doesn’t sound tough, you say. No, it’s the other part that pushes this past the level of extreme sports. Consider some brief clips of the Pacesetter we are to copy:
“The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Talk about a long training period! Talk about mental toughness—to know the terrible beating He would take and go through it anyway!
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” (Matthew 17:17). Talk about frustrations from His teammates, fans and especially the commentators and critics!
“So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him” (Matthew 26:16). Talk about being stabbed in the back by your business manager!
“‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44). Talk about mental agony!
“Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands” (Mark 14:65). Talk about humiliation!
“So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus after he had scourged Him, to be crucified” (Mark 15:15). Talk about unfairness and the worst beating and painful death the Romans could devise!
“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Mark 15:34). Talk about utter abject loneliness—forsaken, totally on His own.
He went through all that for me and you. He did it for us—His Church and all of mankind. And He calls on us to follow in His awesome footsteps.
Are we men enough for the challenge? Truthfully, no. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
We must go to our Coach. Without His help, we can never meet the toughest challenge.
Note: Lest any wives who might be reading this think I’m picking on them by comparing marriage to an extreme sport, let me say that marriage is really the easy part. It’s the warm-up lap with lots of wonderful benefits. Wives are a blessing! This part of the training program is preparation for the hard part:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
We need to love others, not just as we love ourselves, but as Christ loved us! The good, the bad and the ugly. The people who annoy us, treat us bad—our “enemies”! Now that’s extreme love!
Mike Bennett is a husband, father and minister of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, living in Ohio.